CHANGSHA, China — Lionsgate has sealed its much anticipated co-financing and co-production pact with Hunan TV, China’s leading provincial broadcaster and a company with major ambitions in feature film.
The agreement was signed Wednesday local time at an elaborate ceremony at near Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary’s campus in Changsha, with some 300 executives and dignitaries present. The Lionsgate contingent included chairman Jon Feltheimer, Brian Goldsmith co-COO, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chair Patrick Wachsberger, executive VP of international sales Wendy Reeds and senior advisor William Pfeiffer.
The North American mini-major said that the deal would see Hunan TV’s TIK Films subsidiary co-invest in its slate of Hollywood movies and provide a quarter of those films’ production budgets over three years. With production costs for titles outside its richest franchises (“Hunger Games” and “Divergent”) expected to hit $1.5 billion in that period, Hunan TV is expected to provide $375 million of capital.
Films specified under the deal include “Gods of Egypt,” “Now You See Me 2” and supernatural thriller with Vin Diesel “The Last Witch Hunter,” thriller “Sicario,” and “Age of Adaline,” starring Blake Lively and Harrison Ford.
Financing for the deal is provided by East West Bank and Bank of China.
Speaking at the event, Wachsberger said that Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou and Daniel Radcliffe had joined the cast of “Now You See Me 2,” which is currently shooting in Macau and already features returning stars Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, and Woody Harrelson. “Deep Water Horizon,” will shoot in Louisiana from May 7 he said.
The deal contains at least three other elements: opportunities for the two companies to produce or co-produce movies in China; Lionsgate representation of Hunan’s Chinese-language film output in international markets; and a TV component relatingnto TV production and format development.
TIK Films, in partnership with Leomus Pictures, has the option to distribute up to four of the co-financed films each year in China. Lionsgate, TIK and Leomus are already planning several feature film co-development and co-production projects in China. Leomus recently distributed “Now You See Me” and “Escape Plan” from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label in China.
“This agreement reflects our strategy of teaming with entrepreneurial partners to expand our global operations in key markets while underscoring our commitment to a business model that mitigates risk,” said Feltheimer in a statement.
At the ceremony on Wednesday, Hunan TV’s Eric Yang of TIK Films unveiled Hunan’s expanded slate of Chinese language feature films. Ethan Hsu, previously a production executive with Taiwan’s Serenity Entertainment, was hired in October last year to spearhead the film production effort.
Hunan / TIK’s film titles include: “Go Away Mr Tumor 2,” to star Fai Bai and Daniel Wu, co-produced with Wanda Pictures and Edko (Beijing); “Come Across Love” directed by Chen Zhuo and produced with Beijing Joint Film.